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  • Last modified 239 days ago (April 2, 2020)

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America held hostage, Day (who knows?)

So what have the first few days of stay-at-home taught us? For one, a lot more things appear to be “essential services” than we might have imagined. For another, people hereabouts are pretty amazing at adapting to whatever challenge is thrown at them.

The same can’t be said for large portions of the country, where panic seems to be a disease at least as serious as COVID-19. In some cases, businesses in other parts of the country are permanently closing or permanently reducing their operations. Greedy bureaucrats are trying to use emergency powers to push through ideas rejected in normal times. Distant profiteers are gouging prices, and marketers are alternating between reassuring and frightening customers.

Locally, we’re learning that people often go out of their way to help each other. Take one prominent local business, for example. Its corporate insurance won’t allow it to make deliveries, so a manager there is taking it upon himself to deliver items to the COVID-homebound under the radar, without being able to advertise the service.

Students at all levels continue to learn, and teachers continue to teach, but the different options chosen for stay-at-home learning are as different as all the books in a school library, ranging from pretty well class as normal, albeit in front of a computer screen, to something that’s little more than parents trying to home-school their kids. At least most kids appear to have learned how to use teleconferencing better than county commissioners have.

Stores continue to have difficulty obtaining supplies but demonstrate their resilience and dedication to public service by keeping the shelves as stocked as possible, even if they have to resort to ordering replacement items — sometimes at much higher cost to them — that they wouldn’t normally sell.

It’s time to be proud of ourselves and our neighbors — to toot our own horns, if you will, like the dozen or so motorists did Saturday night in dragging Main even after the event formally had been canceled.

Even if most people who get the disease don’t become very sick, we’re all scared by a virus that we aren’t sure how to control. Well, not all of us. In a university meeting I heard dire warnings that two or three of the members of a committee I chair will be dead from COVID-19 within a year. Minutes later came one of several isolated cries that the entire pandemic is an invention of the media – which, of course, invent everything that’s wrong in the world.

There’s also a growing sense in-between those extremes that maybe, just maybe, we’re over-reacting, especially in rural areas like ours, which still does not have a confirmed case of the disease.

Susan Wagle, the president of the state senate and someone with aspirations for higher office, tried to tap into that sentiment over the weekend, saying the stay-at-home order might be fine for urban areas but not so good for rural ones.

We’ve heard others locally questioning why camping at Marion Reservoir had to be eliminated and asking why the local reaction has been so much more disruptive than the local reaction appeared to be to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which infected in our county alone more than 2,700 residents, claiming 115 lives.

The answer may lie in the question. What we’re doing may be preventing a disaster of similar scope. But it could also be like standing on your back porch, banging sticks together to chase away elephants. If no elephants show up, did the banging work? And when will you be able to know it’s safe to stop?

As we sit — “essential” business that newspapers are — in the newspaper office in downtown Marion, we note that many people have been using the car wash across the street. Technically, that probably violates the stay-at-home order. Then again, who’s going to get within six feet of someone spraying water or vacuuming dirt from floor boards?

Common sense is probably the best preventative for COVID-19. Dismissing it or treating it like the end of the world doesn’t help. Just roll with it. True, it’s going to cause a lot of financial grief. But it’s also going to give us time to catch up on all those things around home we’ve been putting off.

COVID-19 doesn’t live in that overloaded storage closest we’ve been saying we need to clean out. Maybe there can be a positive in all of this after all.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified April 2, 2020

 

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